Check When to Use Fall Arrest When Working at Height
If it is not possible to provide a safe work platform with guardrails and toeboards, or an alternative means of safe access (such as suspended access equipment), and workers might fall from height, then it will be necessary to provide some form of fall arrest. Fall arrest comes in two main forms:
- Collective protection systems, such as safety nets and air bags.
- Personal protective systems, such as a fall-arrest harness.
Ideally, collective protection should be used because this will protect all workers, irrespective of whether they are using their PPE correctly or not. For example, safety nets might be suspended underneath the open steel frame of a roof while workers fix the roof cladding material into place.
Nets must be properly installed and securely attached by competent riggers as close as possible below the roof, to minimise the distance fallen.
Personal fall-arrest equipment usually consists of a full body harness connected to one or two lanyards (or wire rope on an inertia reel). The lanyard is connected to an anchor point during use.
Personal fall-arrest equipment should only be used by trained workers. Harnesses, lanyards and anchor points should be routinely inspected to ensure they are in safe working order.
Equipment, Training and Instruction
Workers should be trained in order to work at height safely, but the exact content of the training will depend on the nature of the work and the access methods or controls used.
As a minimum, workers should be aware of the hazards posed, such as the possible presence of fragile roofing materials, unprotected edges, etc. In addition, training may be required by law for the use of some equipment.
For example, those erecting or modifying scaffolds should be competent, and those driving or using MEWPs should have attended a recognised operator training course.